Nursing matters – set goals, not new year’s resolutions

Gemma ForsytheGemma Forsythe discusses new year’s resolutions in dental nursing and the healthy way to set goals in 2022.

Happy New Year! Can you believe we are into 2022 already? I feel like 2021 has flown by. I hope that everyone had a restful and enjoyable Christmas break. Now that we are halfway into January, I want to talk about the importance of setting yourself goals.

January is a time that a lot of people set themselves new year’s resolutions. I feel like people feel pressure to come up with one because others around them are setting themselves a resolution or they see it on social media.

The truth is you don’t have to set yourself a new year’s resolution. Let’s be honest, the most common time to give up a new year’s resolution is the 19 January! A motivation switch does not flip at 12am on the 1 January. Vowing to completely change your behaviour because it is a new year is setting yourself up for disaster.

It can make you feel worse about yourself when you fail at what you have chosen for your resolution.

Don’t remain stagnant

The expectations for these resolutions are usually set drastically high and people get really disheartened when they can’t continue with it. If you want to succeed in 2022, set yourself some goals to tick off throughout the year!

Setting yourself goals – whether it is in your work life, personal life, or both is completely different from a resolution. You are more likely to stick to it. A resolution is a firm decision whether to do something. For example to start going to the gym or to stop biting your nails.

A goal is an aim or a desired result, the object of a person’s ambition or effort. For example improving your public speaking skills or improving your time management skills.

Setting yourself ‘work goals’ not only increases your motivation. But when you achieve your goals, you feel more accomplished, successful and confident. It can be easy to fall into the trap of going to work every day and remaining stagnant, feeling like you are going nowhere.

Career stagnation can lead to low moods, low motivation, boredom, and frequent thoughts about quitting. Having goals gives you something to work towards and creates a vision for yourself of what you want to achieve in the near future. This helps you to sustain that momentum and improve your performance.

As dental nurses we are constantly learning both in work and through our necessary CPD that we work through each year. Our PDP is essentially a list of goals that we tick off and evaluate throughout our cycle so we are familiar with goal setting. It can be difficult to think of things you want to work towards within your career, especially if you feel stuck in a rut!

Professional and personal

I have produced a few ideas for dental nurses to think about if they are struggling to think of what goals they want to set for themselves:

  • Complete a course to allow me to have additional duties
  • Improve my communication skills with patients
  • To plan my day better in the morning so I am not running around looking for materials/instruments during appointments
  • Keep on top of my CPD so I am not rushing around last minute
  • Network more to allow myself to meet more people in the same sector as myself
  • Improve my time management skills.

It can be helpful to think about where you want to be in the future and align your goals to achieve that. For example if you wanted to apply to dental school or to do hygiene and therapy you may want to do a few extra qualifications and an access course in the next few years to allow you to achieve this goal.

As good as professional goals are, you should also set some personal goals. Looking after yourself physically and mentally is so important. It can be easy sometimes to forget to put yourself first when you have a busy life. See it as a promise to yourself to make you a priority.

‘Make you a priority’

Some ideas of personal goals to aim for in 2022:

  • Consciously recognise at least one thing I’m grateful for every day
  • Allow myself the time to start a new hobby
  • Celebrate and recognise all my achievements – no matter how small
  • Ensuring I maintain a decent work/life balance
  • Be kinder to myself, speak to myself like I would a loved one
  • Making time to look after myself – whether that is doing a face mask, taking myself out for a walk or ensuring I get my full lunch hour at work.

Whether you set new year’s resolutions, yearly goals (or both) the most important thing to remember is not to put too much pressure on yourself or be too hard on yourself.

Especially if things don’t go to plan, life is unpredictable and gets in the way sometimes in ways we cannot help – give yourself a break. Here’s to a successful, healthy, and happy 2022!

Catch up with previous Nursing Matters articles:


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